Hugs achieved: x1
“It’s great people get that humorous reaction from the title, without knowing what the show is about”, says Annie Louey as we discuss her upcoming Melbourne International Comedy Festival (and Adelaide Fringe Festival) show ‘Butt Donut’. This show is not all about the gluteus maximus, rather it covers topics from childhood, family, tragedy, romance… and breakups.
But what is a butt donut? “Essentially, it’s a cushion that you sit on if you’ve had skin grafts for burns or another serious injury…you have to sit on this cushion so the skin can heal”. Annie went through “countless laser surgeries, steroid injections…and wear(ing) a pressure garment for a number of years” but did not have skin grafts. This didn’t stop someone at school asking Annie, “where’s your butt donut”?
The event that brought Annie to require such treatment is best told in person, but to provide context, Annie suffered a deep cut that led her to faint and fall into a fire. “I went and spent two weeks in hospital…and after that, it’s been a seven year recovery”. “At the time I couldn’t do comedy about it” but “it did push me into comedy”. “I nearly died…what’s the worst that could happen”? As Annie vocalises her inner monologue, “let’s go and try something that I have always wanted to do”.
Annie took part in ‘Class Clowns’ six months after the accident, still with the bandages on her face. “I just didn’t talk about it. I talked about my family and found jokes around that”. Annie describes becoming “addicted to that feeling” of making people laugh as she recounts a story of performing at her school, “if I can make the bullies laugh…anything is possible”.
After doing a number of open mic nights throughout university, Annie took her craft to the next level by setting herself a challenge to maintain the momentum of her comedy career. “It wasn’t until last year where I went on to do fifty gigs…it just took off”. Annie has admired and taken inspiration from “my idol…to die for” Celia Pacquola as well as Ronny Chieng, Benjamin Law and her mentor Tessa Waters, “I really like that (her) style of comedy”.
“I’m a really logical person, so when I see things that aren’t…that don’t make sense, that’s where I draw my comedy from”. Annie describes the truthful and real catalyst moment of her comedy when she would ask “why the hell is it like that”? ‘Butt Donut’ touches on real issues like “what it is like to be a young multicultural person in Australia” as well as very personal topics like family.
“All my stories are true…it’s hard for me to lie… there’s embellishment but the joke has to come from truth”. Annie notes that “a part of my show is about my dad” and “him dying two years ago”. She describes her late father as “an older dad” with stories “much more impressive than mine” but suggests there may have been some hidden elements to his story. Annie has woven dealing with family and tragedy into her comedy and exclaims determinately, “enough with the lies, I want to come clean”!
Annie is determined to put on an enjoyable and relatable show that demonstrates that audience members should try and “set new goals, get out there and see what happens”. She wants to “give back” including to the KIDS Foundation that made her an ambassador. Annie speaks of the positive work that the charity does, including it’s role in the wider burns survivor network that helps children, teenagers and adults.
Comedy has provided Annie joy in the opportunity to make people laugh and it has also shown her what she is capable of. “The show has really helped in making me accept you can be all these things… you can be a burns survivor, a comedian and work a day job. You don’t have to suppress any part of you”. Annie may cover some darker themes but she notes “at the end, it’s uplifting”. Why is the ‘butt donut’ so pertinent? “You can reinflate yourself. You can come back”!
Check out Annie Louey’s 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival show ‘Butt Donut’ from 9 to 21 April 2018. For more information and to book tickets, click here.
Annie is also performing ‘Butt Donut’ at the Adelaide Fringe Festival on 13 and 15 to 18 March. If you’re in Adelaide, you can find more information and book tickets here.
For more information about the KIDS Foundation and to donate, click here.